Starting a new business or a new sales position it can be daunting. Not only do you have the pressure of achieving your own goals on your shoulders, but also that of your peers and onlookers, some of whom will have doomed your venture to failure. Fortunately, I've devised a few tips and tricks that will ensure you will soon be well on your way to success, the main part of this being a 90-day sales plan, which really works.
10 years ago when I first started my business from the spare room in my rented house in Sydney Australia, I was under the most enormous pressure. My wife was six-months pregnant and I worried about my fledgling business and how I was going to support my soon-to-be family.
In order to overcome this pressure and concentrate my efforts where they were needed, I decided that if I developed a strategy from the start, targeting the right prospective customers and approaching them through cold calling, marketing and attending meetings, within 90 working days, I could propel my business to success.
It may sound simple (the best ideas usually are) but it worked and simply required absolute commitment and a refusal to let early disappointments and refusals deter me. If you choose to treat targeted selling as a numbers game, every closed door you encounter can be turned into a positive, as you are slowly working your way towards an open one.
So, where do you start your 90-day plan?
Firstly, sit down and work out a list of industries that your new product or service would be best suited to. Once you have your list compiled, it's time to start looking for the decision-makers at the company you're targeting. Traditionally, you'd have to go through gate-keepers before you got to these people, but now you can usually quickly and easily find exactly who you need to speak to via LinkedIn or Google.
While email is a great tool and should definitely form part of your strategy, remember that in a lot of companies, people receive dozens if not hundreds of emails every day and it is very hard to make yours stand and get read. Therefore I always recommend a phone call instead as you'll be able to gauge whether your prospect is interested and worth your time straight away. Also keep it in mind all the way that people really do require your products or services. It's just a matter of timing as to when.
Once I have a prospect on the line I always have a carefully prepared but unscripted opening statement to introduce both myself and my product. I believe that 97 per cent of people buy on emotion, and listening to someone sell you something via a script is never going to tap into peoples raw feeling. You want to sound human.
In addition, I try to match a person's tone of voice - if they sound serious and short then I get straight to the point, if they sound happy and upbeat then I mirror this with a happy upbeat approach. I've heard mirroring a person's behaviour is a sign of a good first date, so you could try this approach to improve your love life too!
Try to move straight to the appointment stage as soon as you can. Suggest that you will be in the area in the coming weeks (never be too specific) and that you would love to catch up for a short meeting just to say hi and drop in a business card. Always resist sending them more information or website links etc at this stage, as these won't really get you any further and in most cases give your prospect a reason not to meet with you.
If your call is answered by voicemail (and the majority of the time it will be), a good tip is to leave a short message saying that you will call back another time. I have always found that asking people to call you back is just adding to someone's workload and I will be doing them a favour by making the time to call again.
For me, successful prospecting has always been about the meeting and using the short amount of time I have to make friends with my new prospect. I'm happy to discuss just about anything - I don't always end up talking about business, however, some prospects have absolutely no time for small talk and will want to get straight together point. Always remember that people buy from people and the vast majority buy from people they like.
I get an incredible rush from getting through the door of a company that I know will be interested in my offering. It's a game and can be enormous fun if you look at it through a positive attitude. It can also be fun for your new customers as they can also get a real buzz from helping a small business to get started and having the satisfaction of knowing they helped you on your way.